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Canku Ota
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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Native American Language Immersion:
Innovative Native Education for Children & Families
by Janine Pease-Pretty On Top
With an introduction by Richard Littlebear
credits: American Indian College Fund

This is a report that outlines some of the Language Immersion programs and the results. If you are interested, at all, in saving language, this report is for you.

Native American language immersion schools and projects are the focus of this study. The W. K. Kellogg Foundation supported this analysis, to describe and analyze this innovative Native Education for children and families. A people's initiative, Native American language immersion encompasses educational practices and social development that lie outside the mainstream language teaching, education and socialization methods of American children. Native American language immersion programs are characterized by Native ways of knowing, learning and indigenous knowledge. Native American organizers demonstrate a profound faith in the traditional Native grandparents' role and their methods in language development, teaching and learning. Curriculum content and context rely on the rich Native American knowledge bases and their eminent scholars --- tribal elders and tribal land, resources. Language immersions activists and educators share two characteristics in common: fluency in the tribal language and an unstoppable commitment and devotion to language preservation among children and youth.

Native language immersion schools have remarkable benefits: students show impressive educational achievement, participants demonstrate considerable language knowledge gains in relatively short periods of time, programs contribute significantly to family strength, and college students---adult learners are retained as a positive correlate with language and culture learning. Each of these potentials have importance for tribes, agencies and organizers (both Native and non-Native) who interact or hope to interact positively and significantly with Native Americans in areas of educational and community development. Creativity and unique qualities characterize the language immersion approaches, and are especially reflective of the tribes and their language.

The Native American language immersion activities now number approximately fifty sites. This count comes from correspondence and language immersion educators/activists interviews. The Piegan Institute convened Native language immersion educators and activists (2000 and 2001) attended by representatives from eight sites. The Learning Lodge Institute (a project of Montana's seven tribal colleges) and Northern Arizona University of Flagstaff, also assembled language immersion educators and activists. The Indiana University published language revitalization studies authored by tribal language preservation site organizers and teachers. The Tribal College Journal devoted an entire issue to language preservation and immersion projects and programs in the tribal colleges and universities. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a division of the Administration for Native Americans, the "Native Language Projects." From these sources, it is estimated that active Native language immersion sites (schools, camps, and retreats) number fifty.


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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  
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